They assumed they were going to be just a handful of women pooling their money for charity. By combining their dollars, they hoped to collect $50,000 their first year, which they’d distribute among worthy nonprofits.
Less than two years later, Boston-based SheGives has grown so robustly – it now has 90 members – that it’s closed to new ones until the fall. And, as of this week, its total giving has hit more than a half-million dollars, an amount it originally thought would take many years to raise.
“The whole board is shocked,” said SheGives president Kirstan Barnett, a partner at the Boston hedge fund Bracebridge Capital. “We really thought we were going to put together a group of 10 to 20 friends, and we never thought we’d get to over $500,000 in a year and a half.”
SheGives has a “portfolio” of eight nonprofits chosen after extensive vetting, from scrutinizing their financial statements to interviewing their executive directors. Using that due diligence, members decide how to divvy up their donations.
Members under 40 must donate at least $1,000 a year, and those 40 and over must pledge at least $2,500 annually.
Barnett calls the approach “a vehicle for intelligent philanthropy.”
The group’s latest grants, totaling $280,000, were announced Tuesday evening at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill. They went to: BUILD, which teaches entrepreneurial skills to high-risk high schoolers; College Bound Dorchester, a school readiness program; Engineering Adventures, a Museum of Science after-school program; Lovin’ Spoonfuls food rescue; My Life My Choice, which fights sex trafficking of girls; Raw Art Works, a youth arts group; Science Club for Girls, which offers free STEM classes; and Teach Plus, a teacher training program.
The founding members of SheGives include Merit Cudkowicz, chief of neurology at Mass. General; assistant US attorney Leah Foley; South End interior designer Erin Gates; Jennifer Lum, cofounder of Waltham-based Adelphic; Techstars Boston managing director Katie Rae; Nancy Simonian, CEO of Syros Pharmaceuticals in Watertown; and Bracebridge Capital cofounder Nancy Zimmerman.Sacha Pfeiffer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SachaPfeiffer.